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The Information War
March 30, 2003 10:24 AM   Subscribe

The Information War: "Every few minutes, another burst of satellite imagery and Internet information impacts among an interactive global audience. Ambushed by info, U.S. military commanders confident in their overwhelming firepower are increasingly expressing concern that the 'velocity of information' is spinning out of their control." [more inside]
posted by poopy (20 comments total)

 
There is little doubt that we will win the short-term military campaign in Iraq. More importantly, however, is how this will impact the long-term information war of retaining global alliances and public support. Having invaded Iraq, what potential consequences might the U.S.and our current allies be forced to reckon with in the future? Have we already lost the more serious and far-reaching battle?
posted by poopy at 10:24 AM on March 30, 2003


China
The Iraqi war has convinced the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership that some form of confrontation with the U.S. could come earlier than expected. Beijing has also begun to fine-tune its domestic and security policies to counter the perceived threat of U.S. "neo-imperialism."

As more emphasis is being put on boosting national strength and cohesiveness, a big blow could be dealt to both economic and political reform.
posted by Sirius at 10:41 AM on March 30, 2003


I just returned from a week-long road trip through the grand canyons of SW USA, and I must say, what the vast majority of ordinary Americans hear about the war is much different from what urban intellectuals (most of us on MeFi?) hear.

Television. Right wing radio. Period.

No Common Ground, Metafilter, Salon, Alternet or etc.

Coming home, I devoured the Sunday paper. Even a big city mainstream newspaper has way more real info than TV.

On motel television sets, as long as I could stand it, I was treated to a non-stop barrage of repetitive speculation and tastefully muted patriotic warcries.

The USA's reputation as the home to the world's most ignorant First World populace is not entirely undeserved.
posted by kozad at 10:58 AM on March 30, 2003


All information is not equal. Mayhaps it's more appropriate to say, "Ambushed by Propaganda."

This is so, "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?"
posted by acutetype at 11:11 AM on March 30, 2003


I just returned from a week-long road trip through the grand canyons of SW USA, and I must say, what the vast majority of ordinary Americans hear about the war is much different from what urban intellectuals (most of us on MeFi?) hear.

Television. Right wing radio. Period.


I just got back from 10 days out there myself, and the only places I couldn't find an NPR radio station were the llano estacado (that miserable plain in east NM and west Texas) and some places in Utah where it was blocked by rock, like inside Zion.

Unless NPR is rabid right-wing radio too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:13 AM on March 30, 2003


Television. Right wing radio. Period.

No Common Ground, Metafilter, Salon, Alternet or etc.



Yet if all you read are the sites above, you'll get just as skewed a perspective as a person that gets all their news on the war from right-wing talk radio.
posted by gyc at 11:26 AM on March 30, 2003


urban intellectuals

Yeah those poor dumb hicks, they just aren't as enlightened as all the sophisticated city folk.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:33 AM on March 30, 2003


The War of the Memes
posted by homunculus at 11:36 AM on March 30, 2003


Standoff at Basra Hints at Tough Time in Baghdad

Iraqi Tactics Not What U.S. Expected

Prince and Subjects Were Let Down
posted by y2karl at 11:46 AM on March 30, 2003


steve@L: to the extend that those outside of urban areas have less access to information and are less likely to encounter diverging views, it's entirely possible for a rural community to be less "enlightened" as city folk. The problem has nothing to do with relative levels of intelligence, it's the simple fact that isolation can present a problem for the flow of information. Trust me on this. I've spent a fair portion of my life in Utah.

gyc: I don't think it was suggested that the web sites in question should be someone's only source of info... just that there are some people who are neither reading nor considering anything like it. And Metafilter has an edge going for it over Rush and Salon and the like... threads (and an open front page) present an opportunity for people to link to and present alternative views. And maybe reading a variety of sources accross the spectrum of bias is the best thing to do.

Though I do appreciate it when people/orgs make an attempt to be balanced... and NPR and the Washington Post seem the most so to me, these days. Critical and probing without the angry hue. I simply can't stand listening to any program for any period of time that's practically uninterrupted bashing.
posted by namespan at 11:47 AM on March 30, 2003


namespan, my primary issue was with the phrase "urban intellectuals" and it condescending inference. But please tell me, what news source is the "urban" populous privy to, that the "rural" populous is not? There is none. Trust me on this, I used to live in a quite rural area myself.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 12:14 PM on March 30, 2003


Where you didn't learn to tell between populace and populous, evidently.
posted by y2karl at 12:26 PM on March 30, 2003


I tend to trust my news more from individuals than organizations when some type of analysis is involved - usually guys like Zakaria, Friedman and Kagan are tremendously informed on foreign policy issues.

The problem with the media, from a US army standpoint, isn't really US media, but foreign media. There's been a tremendous amount of misreporting of historical fact, at least from my and from the army's point of view. Among them:

a) that there is a precedent for wars to have UN sanctioning; West African nations removed Sese Seko, N. Vietnam removed Pol Pot, the US was in Kosovo, Haiti, Grenada and Panama, the UK was in the Falklands, etc., etc., without any UN approval.

b) that the war is tremendously bloody; civilian casualties are by far the lowest in any war of this scale that I can think of. US causalties are the same way. The most Iraqi civilian casualties, as far as I'm aware, are from civilians being shot by pro-Saddam forces as they try and run from ciites like Basra.

c) that the situation is destabilizing with tremendously strong Iraqi resistance, Turkish and Iranian belligerence, etc.; Turkey has basically been told to stay out of Iraq or they won't get into the EU and won't get US aid, Iraqi resistance has not been very strong (or else we wouldn't have troops an hour from Baghdad after 11 days)

d) that the media is giving away critical knowledge; the media needs to shut up as far as giving away things like troop locations; they're putting soldiers lives and operations at risk every time it's done.

Finally, concerning rural intellectuals: Of course, rural areas tend to be less educated. Nonetheless, they still have the internet. They can still get the Economist sent to their house. I do accept that rural areas, as a whole, though, are less informed on these types of issues. It's important to point out, though, that the diversity of opinion on Iraq in, say, Kansas, is far greater than the diversity of opinion in San Francisco or Manhattan.
posted by Kevs at 12:27 PM on March 30, 2003


You might be right, Kevs. I'd really like to know what the Hays, Kansas street has to say about Iraq. I'm not being sarcastic. We URBAN INTELLECTUALS tend to have a pretty insular viewpoint, as you point out with SF and NY.

I'm not being condenscending when I use the phrase "urban intellectual." I'm just using a label that fits the people I hang out with. Having spent years working in factories and warehouses in a mid-sized Midwestern town, I'm well aware of the fact that intelligence is not more liberally distributed among urban intellectuals than it is among the working class in flyover country.

I'm also aware that farmers have equal access to the Internet and Economist subscriptions. Perhaps being without an Internet connection while exploring the canyons colored my views on this.

The fact is, though, that most Americans get most of their news from TV. (The rural/urban dichotomy is moot here; three-quarters of Americans live in the cities, anyway.) And the television is not a very clear "window on the world."
posted by kozad at 1:14 PM on March 30, 2003


"Acting more like a Reichmarshall then Secertary of Defense"

I guess this gem, from the article, can be viewed as populist, Yes?
posted by clavdivs at 1:43 PM on March 30, 2003


Speaking of China: More Afraid of Ideas Than of Capitalism
posted by homunculus at 3:38 PM on March 30, 2003


namespan, my primary issue was with the phrase "urban intellectuals" and it condescending inference.

I can conceed that one. Metro areas are teeming with uninformed lemmings as often as they're possesed of informed, sharp sophisticates.

But please tell me, what news source is the "urban" populous privy to, that the "rural" populous is not? There is none. Trust me on this, I used to live in a quite rural area myself.

Perhaps different in character from the ones I've experienced, then. In these rural areas, you generally have a third-tier newspaper (like Utah's Daily Herald) or if you're lucky, a second-tier like the Salt Lake Tribune. If you're unlucky, you have a "community" paper which is 7/10 scrapbook and 3/10 college paper level news coverage. This is a far cry from the Washington Post, NY Times, or even the LA Times (you can't buy any of the above at most newstands in my home town). Non talk-show radio news doesn't exist on the radio in many rural areas I've been on... occasionally I see the exception of one station that's a network affiliate, or places that are not too far from a college, which usually will carry NPR and the BBC world news.

There's the Internet, of course, but what I find is that you have to have it in your consciousness to use it as a news source and dig. People have been trained by previous one-way media to passively receive news as a dispatch, not something you go looking for. In rural isolated areas, I also have found that cultural change an acceptance of outside ideas come more slowly. There's some good in that, but being informed about the world outside is generally not one part of this.
posted by namespan at 4:00 PM on March 30, 2003


This article better describes the "Information War." It's easily accessible to both the "urban intellectuals" and "rural populous."
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:28 PM on March 30, 2003


Are we to again expect more weirdness from the inimitable Jean Baudrillard? Having argued that last time around that 'The Gulf War Did Not Happen' is he warming up for a repeat performance? Barking mad theories available here, here and here!
posted by dmt at 7:57 AM on March 31, 2003


"impacts among"
Ok, we are really letting this impact-as-a-verb thing get out of control.
posted by Outlawyr at 8:41 AM on March 31, 2003


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